Look at #HarryPotter, (with help from Diana Butler Bass) and Christ & Culture

I have an ongoing theory about where religion is going….

It happily matches Diana Butler Bass’s, though is from a differing perspective

In undergrad I got a BA in Hist and Engl and (almost) a minor in Philosophy…but really, I was studying fairy tales & fantasy. I did my thesis on that.

Then in seminary, I would sneak off and read fantasy and try to study Lewis and L’engle on the side, of course taking Osmer’s Fantasy class (I got to help with the reading list that year) YAY!

So….I’ve noticed how fantasy is not only the sort of fiction our souls need, as the inklings theorized, but also that its mirroring of spirituality is amazing.

Here is the thesis in a nutshell: Fairy Tales did not exist before Christ, before that there was no forgiving God, no happily ever after. (Cupid and Psyche is simultaneously the last myth, the first fairy tale)

There the idea of Human Progress and Mythic Recess. Science was on the move, Oz has to be hidden, Narnia can’t be find, the Elves are leaving in Tolkien.

Science is taking over there is no room for magic/religion

We are now, in 2015, witnessing the Harry Potter generation coming into adulthood. If I am at the beginning of the millennial time (I was born in 83), then my sister (born in 93) and graduating from undergrad this year, I think will be the end of it, and the beginning of the new generation. How can it not? The economics have changed, religion has changed, rights have changed….read Diana Butler Bass’s book Christianity after Religion for more.

This Harry Potter generation read about Muggles and Wizardfolk. Side by side, intertwined. The magic is hard to find, but once you discover it, it parallels and is (and as it turns out has been) integrated into “regular” life. Urban fantasy, by the likes Charlaine Harris &

I feel this is a signal to where religion/faith is going in the future. How does our spirituality fit into our lives?

More (w)holistically to be sure, more diverse, more interspersed with those who are not typically religious.

People like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Neil Gaiman, Madeline L’engle, Robin Mckinley all of whom speak to the truth of fantasy….

I know it is but a mirror, but the fact that fantasy was founded as a conversation about Christ and Culture, and looking to the big questions

Where does humanity start? How is the great battle between good and evil going? What is the individual’s call within that battle?

(Geek moment. I consider Science Fiction to be about adding technology onto humans to augment and change it. Fantasy to be about what happens when magic is thrown into the normal world. Both are about the state of humanity, what makes someone a person?)

I think that as the Harry Potter Generation, those who literally grew up with the books, signal where interest in spirituality might be going next, and that their might be a revival…..and I find that fascinating……

Still mulling about that wonderful Dystopic Fantasy…I think Diana Bass Butler’s theory about the bridge of change….is helpful ….even more helpful for me is to move beyond the flat narrative and looking more carefully at the narrative of those who have to bear the burden of those changes, people of color, the poor, the LBGQT, etc.

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Good NEWS and extroverting

Nextchurch2015

We are listening to the immeasurable Diana Butler Bass who is greatly illustrating her theories on church and culture, when the news breaks on twitter a little before 7:30 (she started at 7).

Its a amazing, its wonderful.

I text the news to my parents.

I can’t believe it.

Twitter is going crazy.

The real question is Can we interrupt Diana Butler Bass?

7:28 pm @miheekimkort suggests “@revJohnRussell at 7:30 lets stand up and scream”

I tweet @bookkats “Feel the pcusa urge to stand up and proclaim the good news even tho its rude to interrupt awesome DBB” at about the same time

I wait for 7:30, sure someone will do it…

THREE agonizing Holy Spirit Bubbling minutes later (7:31) I realize no one has….

Then she talked about the fourth awakening, and its true realization (as in any realization) is when social justice comes into play, so I’m like “Ok, and now she’s talking social justice. Holy Spirit help my extrovert.”

I am totally bursting with the news. This is good news! This is my job to tell good news, and I have REALLY GOOD NEWS, and texting my parents isn’t going to do it!

@jledmiston says Can someone ask Q@dianabutlerbass for a brief space to acknowledg the PCUSA’s big news?

We were awaiting authority, in Nextchurch, which I love to define as the organic and hands on ideas of what is next for the church …irony….

So I’m like, maybe a quiet way is better (I guess I’m getting better at practicing some restraint) I Tweet “Stand up and hold up your phone maybe?”

This is the time, I realize, Diana Butler Bass is talking about the no going back change, the revival at the point ofsocial justice: what a moment to tell the news!

Meanwhile I hear rustle, rustle, rustle, everyone is looking at their phones

@mollyfid nails it on the head “Y’all, I”m about to Burst! UNfreeze yourselves presbys! Surely DBB will pause for a cheer”

Then I realize…I’m in the balcony, I’m in the first row. This is totally not awkward (I mean heck I’d love to do it from the most awkward and silliest position ever)….I’m the extrovert.

Oh my God….its me…I’m the one who is called into this place at this time to do this….its me, and I’m going to LOVE it

I stand up and (rather timidly) raise my hand. “Excuse me Diana….Sorry to interrupt, but we are just bursting here. We just passed 14F, all people can marry”

And I see it……from the balcony, everyone stands up and hugs and cheers in an almost disordered fashion….

It was beautiful, it was holy

my sister is trans…

I burst into tears

Diana Butler Bass asked my name and then said “The Episcopalians welcome you” 🙂

The amazing moment when God uses my no-hold-barred extroverted self who happened to sit in the front of the balcony at that moment…on the day when Brian preached about acceptance in the morning in the evening where the Presbyterian Light people were already planning their reception.

What do you call that but holy?

Holy

And then, we listened as best we can to Diana, hearing all the better her critiques because we were in a better place as church (claim the entire denom has failed, no problem : )

And then, we went and did church! The planned 80 people who went to the Presby Light reception were way…way…more….

Too many Presbyterians, after a long day, did church that night at a bar.

We have become a fuller church, how can we include people next, is Belhar Confession around the corner?

We did church, then and there with loud music and too many Presbyterians and drinks and food…

And we told each other the good news.

Amen. Alleluia

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#churches and #family the Socio-economics of #churchattendance

Warning: this will be rant-ish.

Know how churches don’t like that families and church no longer come first? How it is hard to get the typical family to church more than once a month?

The socio-economics of the situation are tricky, with little national health care and extremely expensive daycare it is difficult to have the time/money to invest in church. Either you are a stay at home mother/father with no extra funds or time or your one of two full time working parents who don’t have enough time to see your children and take them to all the extra-curriculars they “should” be doing.

The socio-economics are crazy, because most people can’t work a regular 9-5 job and are in and out of the house at crazy times working crazy hours.

Plus who knows if you’ll have that job or even be able to live in that city in 1 or 2 or 3 years from now.

Not to mention that most young families can barely afford to have a house or to not put in crazy extra hours or to work multiple jobs including babysitting or whatever other odd jobs they can find.

This is the reality.

So…understand, when churches do not support their staff taking care of their family. Whether it be to go to a family funeral, take care of a personal illness or to take maternity/paternity leave, that we are contributing to the very socio-economic problem we complain about day in and day out. Families who cannot take the time to take care of one another, who have to work instead of putting their family first, will have trouble making it to church.

Pastors are one of such staff…pastors are always on call, do not work 9-5, oft have to make meetings that cause delays of or missing of putting their children to bed. The hours are haphazardly put together depending on the congregation’s needs. Its a flexible job in some ways and very stringent in others.

Some typical (although not absolute) examples: if someone is ill, dying or in extremis you must be there…you may take sick days…as long as they are never when you are scheduled to preach

I know churches can ill-afford pastors, maybe its time to borrow other pastors, pay the choir director a little more or use a lay leader. Maybe its time to do a daily prayer service instead of a formal “traditional” service.

But if we can ill-afford pastors we absolutely CANNOT afford to not take care of those in need in our church…Think about that for a minute…the church claiming they can’t afford to take care of children and ill-ones…..

Thus: We can’t say we want more families to come to church–and then not support our families.  We can’t claim to be choosing God’s path and then not take care of our sick and our little ones.

(feel free to read paragraph above a couple of times)

Do we need an act of Congress to do the right thing?

I think we can do better.

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Origin #Story or #mythic me

My Mythic Origin Story

(thanks to http://www.transmography.net/brainery/syllabus-schedule/science-fiction-fairy-tales-spring-2015/) class

Before she could even speak words
She listened
And before the word there were forms
and before that there was…something
Colossal collisions, implosions on the skin, bombarding, piercing the eyes and creeping into the ears.
Before she could even speak words, she started stringing things together. Understanding how the beads of space interacted.
Connection.
All things are connected, but how, and why. There must be meaning, even random events come together.
So she strove to name, first she named the things, then she strung those names with other things, but that wasn’t enough. Calling out a person’s name doesn’t tell anyone who they are. Names are just labels after all.
She knew here name was Katy, but after all, aren’t there millions of Katys in the universe? Being a Katy is good, but being her own unique version of Katy was more important.
Katy began to tell stories, to explain who she was is experiences and relationships, and then she discovered, by telling these stories, she was changing them. By trying to give names to things, the world itself is effected and changed.
Maybe that’s why our job is to name things, because the most effective way to influence the world is to tell the story of it, over and over again until we get it right. Whether it is naming the phenomena of the stars or struggling to name the hows and whats of an intricate relationship. Naming matters.
So she went forth, and Katy did talk, she talked and she talked and she talked to name as many things as possible.
And then she started listening, she listened to what others were naming–because when the naming spill into each other, thats when magic happens.

@amandapalmer #nextchurch #nonprofit #ministry…who wants to discuss #theartofasking #media

Pretty sure I’m going to devour this book in 5 secs. flat….so….

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Who in nonprofits/ministry wants to discuss Amanda Palmer’s book and what it means in terms of fundraising, media ..you know tiny issues like that which effect our daily existence? Plus this is a great window into the “sharing” culture that I so love today…

I’m planning on leading a twitter discussion on Sun Feb 8th at 7pm Eastern time. My handle is bookkats

If you need the book or want to give it to someone else check out https://massmosaic.com/groups/162/info

Let’s get the word out!

http://www.ted.com/talks/amanda_palmer_the_art_of_asking?language=en

#MYOGHS a counter to #notmyOGHS, ideas for better theological #media

Presbyterians are awesome. I say this completely biased opinion, but I love, Love, LOVE our theology and integral to that is the community-connectional nature of our theology…We are one in Christ

We shoulder our burden together trying to connect smaller churches with bigger ones, trying to partner up those congregations that differ, trying to reach out into the community…sometimes our actions are not as effective as we like–but we base them on a solid theology.

Were I to run the campaign for One Great Hour of Sharing I would illustrate the following theological statements from 1 Cor 12

Because the Eye cannot say to the hand “I have no need of you” (Someone looking for things, Another person working with their hands)

The body is not made up of one part…but many…(I would make a body shape out of a diverse bunch of bodies)

If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be. (I’d have someone listening, and someone else smelling food)

On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable..(maybe share one of our stories of someone who was raised into ministry or service with low resources, or an illustration of the widow’s mite)

For we were all made to drink of one Spirit (water for all)

One Great Hour of Sharing: Because we need each other…

#Presby #PCUSA #Media & #Marketing #notmyOGHS

Hmmm…..

The #notmyOGHS movement on twitter points to 2 deeper issues.

The first of which is the utilization of stereotypes to market (even if meant ironically). The deep and complex issues of this campaign is summarized well here https://storify.com/breyeschow/concerns-raised-over-2015-oghs-campaign These are amazing issues, that are too complex to address in one blog post, please read over the variety here.

OGHSfishcal260x260

The other issue is media….some people raised the fact that an outside (non-theologically) based company was hired to help with the campaign.

In the quest to be hip(ster) and cutting edge, the denomination mis-stepped…In fact, from what I know about Millennials they might be some of the first to point to the hegemonic issues that exist in such an advertising scheme. I think this was part of the issue with the One Thousand and One Worshiping Communities scandal as well…

#wecandobetter

We can find new ways of speaking…We can do better in media…but we can’t leap ahead, we need Presbyterian marketers, we need to groundsource our young pastors to help with twitter, tumblr and instagram (FB is already passe)….

Media is so, so important…if we are preaching the Gospel we need to translate into all kinds of language–we learn this lesson over and over again.

How can we translate the Gospel into these forms of media, how can we get digital natives to do the translating? If we want to be hip to hipsters…shouldn’t they be the ones helping with the campaign (or give a substantial slice to them?)….

We have so many gifted resources, we should be using them.

I #believe in #miracles, and other weird #Christian things…

http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Matthew+3:1-12&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Ps. 2:7-8

7I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have begotten you.

8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”

baptism of the Lord

Brownson says that Baptism is not Salvation, but the promise of salvation. It is the faith in that promise, it is the acknowledgment that our God is a Promisekeeping God

Baptism particularizes the promise that God makes to the world.

Why?

God promises to love the world, to take care of it, to save it.  Baptism, adopts us into that promise, particularizing it into us…embracing us into the reality of Jesus Christ, making us part of it all…We are all children of God in general, baptism, makes us each children of God as individuals; Matt 28:19-20 baptize them in the name of the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit and teach them my commandments, and I will be with you always..making us effectively related to God (effectively changing all our last names to be Jesus Christ). Hence my name becomes Katy Jesus Christ–thus I become part of the body of God!

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Every single baby that is born is a miracle. Babies being born are so,

so miraculous…child-of-god

but your baby being born is a PARTICULAR miracle…Right? I mean all babies are amazing, but your baby (whether its yours, your friends, your child’s baby, if you have ownership) is SUPER-EXTRA AMAZING..because its your particular baby. Baptism is special for that same reason.

Baptism…and Communion are sacraments…for Presbyterians there are two such sacraments; which are another weird thing that Christians do.

That’s what makes a sacrament, a sacrament in the Presbyterian church a sacrament is that which Jesus enacted, commanded and then promised particular presence during…

This is my body broken for you…this is my blood of the new covenant

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That’s after all, what a miracle is…its seeing God’s particular presence in a particular circumstance, its when you don’t know how or when things happen, but they do, through God’s presence. Its different than magic, which is when you explain the unexplainable….Miracles are about grace-filled instances which happen through God making connections that we might not expect

Ever time we practice communion or baptism, God promises to be particularly present. God is present and loves us all the time, but the fact that God promises to be particularly present with these moments …make them miracles

Like a roof that needs to be fixed, and suddenly a bequest appears that covers it….like a lesbian couple who end up not getting married at the church but force the governing board to extend welcome to such a wedding…like having way, wayyyy too much work to do and suddenly a snow day gives you the extra time you need.

These moments are miracles, places where our humanity is insufficient, and yet God’s presences helps things to work out….

These moments are the difference between Spirituality & Religion

Spirituality is talking about who God is…and what God does in general…a generalized understanding of God and how it effects spiritual life. Spirituality is good…its practiced by most people, even those who don’t go to church.

Religion is (nothing more & nothing less) than the practice of God’s presence, the practice of miracles. The practice of seeings where God is present, participating it and then telling others about it. It is through this practice that we are joined together. We recognize and practice God’s presence, together.

body-of-christ

Its just like practicing family–practicing family can be as easy as having dinner together…you plan the dinner together, experience the dinner together and then discuss how dinner went (maybe with people who aren’t even your family)…Each of those steps are within the practice of the miracle that is family…

So too is communion…we prepare for communion declaring what it will be (how it binds us to God and eachother), then we practice it together, then we discuss how it went and what it means for our future…in this we practice the miracle of God’s presence. We do this every time we talk look for/experience/witness to God’s presence in our lives….

Let’s go practice some miracles….

(thanks to Barb Hedges-Goettl for the theology of Christ’s transformative presence in communion)

The #God #Experience or Why do we do that #church thing?

Epiphany is a realization that changes you…

that’s what the Magi had…it changed them Matthew 2:1-12

Then they were brave…

Why? Because they experienced God….Experiencing God is like experiencing the stars.

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We can define the stars…but the experience of these burning masses of gas, is beyond a description.

We can define God as this fully human, fully divine, who was born in a manger, and died to save us all…

but the experience of God is more than that…that is why we gather together each week…each Sunday we come together to share where we see God working in our lives!

And to try not to be-little it…not to make it small…but to magnify it. To proclaim it, to call attention to the good news of God in our lives, one who is present and active.

wings“I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly.” Madeline L’engle

Bad things happen, and we are not told to ignore them(heck 2/3rds of the Psalms are people crying out to/yelling at God), but what we are meant to realize, and share, and embrace, is God’s work in & through us.

People asking about a clothing exchange that closed over a year ago is evidence of God’s power.

The church making budget every year for 3yrs even though not everyone gives what they thought they would is pure miracle.

Having a ceiling and roof repair in one year, and having an estate come through the works for a quarter of the cost…..that has been in probate for 30 years…is God at work

Every person who has heard God’s voice, every one who feels God’s work, every one who comes through the farmer’s market or the playgroup, the fact that we are getting more calls for help in a month than what we used to get in a year.

These are all God-experiences…..

They are amazing…

and its is this reason we journey together…we see God’s star in the East, we may get lost, we may need to ask for directions, we may have to go back a different way…but we are doing it because we are experiencing God.

Together!

#LBQT Happy Coming Out Week, friendly note: don’t preach hate as gospel

Notes from my trans sister….

Important note about the evangelists on campus:
A reminder that that is NOT what Christianity usually means. Christianity is about love and grace, about finding and defining yourself and the world in relation to God and their love. Christianity does not have to mean hatred, exclusivity, or fear of retribution. In fact, the people for whom that is what Christianity means are generally the fringe minority.
Please do not judge this religion on its extremists.